Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When you act with purpose to help the people you love, when harm comes your way, you will be protected

The Gifts Received From Sacrifice

There were three brothers whose father had a certain form of discipline that would many times cross the line into extreme physical abuse. Whenever any of the boys would get into trouble, as any boy would, their father, depending on how sober has was, would dole out various levels of “discipline.” For instance, if the 6’4”, 300lbs father had way too many drinks of brown whiskey, there were no limits to the amount of punishment exhibited. During these times, it seemed the only thing that would stop the physical harm would be the father becoming too tired to carry-on; his wife begging him to stop; or one of the boys pissing his pants from the extreme pain/trauma.

If the father was somewhat sober, the violence would be extreme, but would not reach the same level during the times when he was drunk. So the boys would learn to monitor their father’s “moods” and try to act accordingly. Unfortunately, the father’s moods could be altered by many things, like something as simple as usual life circumstances. The family was poor and as it turns out, the father too experienced similar childhood traumas. The combination of day-to-day life hardships, lack of available resources, and way too much alcohol, the boys were always is grave emotional and physical danger when their father was around.
The oldest boy and the most experienced knew how to avoid some of the violence. He knew how to stay away from the home whenever the father was around. He was a bigger child -- big boned, as it was described. The middle brother was very skinny and unfortunately, suffered from rheumatic fever when he was in grade school. He stayed in his bed for about a year during the illness. As the result of this long sickness there were some lingering effects, both physically and mentally. The condition would be labeled as autistic in today’s terms. But back then, it was known as just being “sickly.” The youngest brother, as it turns out, was just right! Not too big or too skinny or sickly.
Sometimes when the father came home to something being broken in the house, he would line the three boys up and promise that nothing would happen if only the guilty person confessed. Now…this tactic worked the first time, but after the boys saw what happened to the guilty after the confession, there would be few other quick confessions.
One evening the father came home in a semi-sober, bad-day mood. Something in the house had been broken. The boys were taken into the dimly-lite, cob-web infested basement, which was scary enough by itself, and lined up in front of their father. The father said, “I am going to close my eyes. The one who broke the (??) just step forward and touch my hand.  All I want is for one of you boys to confess and everything will be ok.”  The final statement he made before closing his eyes was “If no one touches my hand, you are all going to get it.”
The boys already knew the trick and with the father’s eyes seemingly shut, the boys silently looked into the others’ horrified eyes. What they all three knew was that the youngest of the three was the guilty party. The oldest brother would not dare touch and the other two knew that. The youngest brother, having just experienced a very troubling episode the night prior, was terrified to touch. He knew he could not take another hard beating. Because the guilt would be too much if all three were beaten, the youngest brother began to slowly move toward touching the father’s out-reached hand. Just before contact was made, the middle brother, free of any guilt and probably in his bed at the time of the offense, reach out and slapped the father’s hand.
You will be protected
Before the youngest brother could process what just happened, the father grabbed the sickly middle child by the arm and began beating him. The only sound that broke the silence were the high pitched smacks that came from a very large hand connecting to the body of a small, weak framed boy. There were no screams, no begging and pleading to stop, no crying. The skinny, sickly middle boy did not make one sound, drop one tear or let loose one drop of piss. Although this beating matched past ones – this time – nothing, not a whimper!
Although the boys had gotten used to seeing each other’s bruises during bath times, the youngest brother became shocking aware of the wounds on the middle brother’s body the next day. While the middle brother went on about his day and treated his little brother as he always did, the younger brother was confused and not sure what motivated his older brother to intervene. The brothers never spoke about that night, or any other of the many traumatic events they endured.
We are given many opportunities in our lives to act purposely and sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others. Please notice in the title that I state, “…when harm comes your way…” I did not say “if” harm comes, because it is a fact of life that harm will come your way.

The middle brother knew the risks of stepping in and accepting the beating intended for his baby brother. He had witnessed many beatings. It seems the time finally came when the middle brother could no longer watch an injustice from the sidelines.  Fortunately – having a purpose – he was totally safeguarded from harm. Yes…he received bruises, whelps, and other physical marks, but he was not harmed. His mind was on the good act he was doing – not on the bad act he was receiving.
Trying to live life on life’s terms is hard enough without trying to protect the ones we love and taking on their pains. However, until you have truly sacrificed your health and wellness for the benefit of others, you have not experienced the giving of a substantial gift – or received one.
Peace, DAP

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